The Batman Who Laughs #1 was an excellent start to this six issue mini-series. Honestly, the Batman Who Laughs is a character that I have had less than zero interest in ever since he first debuted in Darker Days: The Casting #1. However, Scott Snyder delivered such an incredibly well written debut issue to this mini-series that my lack of interest in the titular character did not matter in the least.
I am more than confident that Snyder is going to deliver another well crafted read with The Batman Who Laughs #2. It should be interesting to see how Batman manages to deal with this seemingly impossible to defeat foe. Let’s go ahead and hit this review.
Words: Scott Snyder
Colors: David Baron
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin with Batman narrating how all cultures place emotion and energy in the location of the heart. That is why people cover their heart when surprised. It is why Bruce’s father put his hands over Bruce’s heart before his father was shot.
We see Alfred performing surgery on the Joker. Alfred mentions that they could simply not resuscitate Joker. That it would not be murder. Or they could bring him back just enough for him to live in a coma. Batman orders Alfred to save Joker’s life.
We see Batman has a ton of vials of serum to the Joker toxin all hooked into his body. Batman says that if he does this every day then it should give him a week before he succumbs to the Joker toxin.
We cut to Commissioner Gordon and Batman disguised as Harvey Bullock investigating the death of another Bruce Wayne from the Dark Universe. This Bruce Wayne is much older and was the Mayor of Gotham City.
Batman notes that the Joker Who Laughs punctured the heart of this Bruce Wayne like he has with all of the other Bruce Waynes. Batman says that the cardiac blood is the most resilient of the body’s cells. Batman guesses that the Batman Who Laughs must be using the cardiac blood to create a serum.
A young uniformed cop arrives on the scene and starts joking about the betting pool at the police station. Cops are placing money in three different buckets based on how they think the Batman is going to get killed. Batman as Harvey freaks out on the uniformed cop. (Batman periodically loses his temper and goes psycho due to the effects of the Joker toxin in his system.)
Gordon calms down Batman/Harvey. They two then go to Wayne Tower to look at an old map of Gotham. Batman/Harvey mentions that the plague wiped out 1/3 of the city’s population. Batman/Harvey says that the founding families of Gotham created a system called Last Laugh to combat any future plague from destroying Gotham or spreading to the rest of the country. This system consisted of vaccinating the city with airships, reservoirs of food and water stored deep below the streets.
Batman/Harvey says that he created his own Last Laugh system. A final defense against any biological attack. A way to seal off Gotham and purify the air and water. The central hub is located at the very top of Wayne Tower. The only person with access to the central hub is Bruce Wayne.
We cut to the Batman Who Laughs arriving on the top floor of the Wayne Tower. He walks to the door to the central hub. The guard is an old blind man. The bioscanner at the door recognizes the Batman Who Laughs’ finger as Bruce Wayne. The blind guard was a public servant who was injured in an attack by the Scarecrow. The blind guard thanks Bruce Wayne for taking care of all of his medical bills and for giving him a job.
The Batman Who Laughs enters the central hub and closes the door. Inside of the central hub are a bunch of Wayne security guards. The Batman Who Laughs kills all of the guards.
Batman then appears on the scene and begins fighting the Batman Who Laughs. Batman notes that the Batman Who Laughs is leaner and much faster, but that Batman is stronger. Batman says he is employing a fighting style composed of five different fighting styles to accentuate his strength advantage. The Batman Who Laughs counters with a fighting style composed of six different styled that accentuate his speed. Batman says that he created a new fighting style that the Batman Who Laughs will not recognize or be able to counter. That Alfred calls this fighting style “Bam Pow.”
Batman takes down the Batman Who Laughs. Suddenly, Batman gets shot in the upper chest by the Grim Knight. The special bullet has a taser in it that prevents Batman from standing up. The Batman Who Laughs then activates the self destruct feature of the central hub. Batman tries to override the self destruct feature with his voice commands. Batman Who Laughs reveals that the taser bullet also disrupts sound waves so that Batman’s voice commands are useless.
Batman Who Laughs then exits the building. The blind guard enters the central hub. Batman stands up and grabs the blind guard. They then job out of Wayne Tower just as the building implodes.
We shift back to the Batcave. Batman yells at Alfred to wake up the Joker. Batman grabs the Joker and yells for him to wake up. The Joker wakes up. Batman says that the Joker knows the Batman Who Laughs’ plan and for him to tell it to Batman now. The Joker replies that he does not know the plan. The Joker says that only one person knows the Batman Who Laughs plan.
We zip over to Commissioner Gordon walking into a grocery store. An employee whose face remains covered by a baseball hat tells Gordon that he is not supposed to be here. Gordon says that there is a monster on the loose and that he needs the employee’s help. The employee asks why me? It is revealed that the employee is James’ son: James Gordon, Jr. Commissioner Gordon says that James, Jr. may be the only person why can help them stop the Batman Who Laughs. End of issue.
The Good: Batman Who Laughs #2 is another excellent read. Scott Snyder is on another level at the moment. Snyder has firmly asserted himself as DC’s top writer alongside of Geoff Johns. What continues to impress me with Snyder’s stories is how he is able to adapt his writing to the specific title’s tone, mood, and genre.
Over on Justice League, Snyder allows himself to deliver dialogue that is a bit more playful and cheesy wrapped up in a mainstream super hero story that is lighter and entertaining. This can be seen in Snyder’s work on Justice League where the story evokes themes of the Silver Age and places an emphasis on fun.
Yet, Snyder is able to seamlessly shift gears and deliver dialogue that is more raw and blunt to fit a story that is far grittier, dark, and noir like what we get in Batman Who Laughs. It is impressive how equally adept Snyder is in penning both styles of titles.
Batman Who Laughs #2 is simply a wonderfully written issue. Snyder is a wordsmith who handles the English language better than any other writer from Marvel and DC outside of Grant Morrison. The dialogue and the narration is simply beautiful. There is a poetry to the dialogue and narration. It is easy to get lost in the language in this issue.
Snyder also blesses each of the characters with their own unique external voice. The character work throughout The Batman Who Laughs #2 is also strong. Each character is well developed and properly fleshed out. Snyder takes the extra time and effort to make each character their own person with realistic and well defined personalities. The chemistry between all of the characters is wonderful. This helps to make the story even more immersive and intense.
Snyder also injects plenty of emotion into this story. Batman’s rage at the Earth–22 Batman and his fear over the loss of life at Wayne Tower. Gordon’s concern for Batman and apprehension about approaching his son. Alfred’s genuine concern and love for Bruce and his disdain for the Joker. The emotions ripple from each page and make The Batman Who Laughs #2 an intense read that gets the reader deeply invested in the story thanks to the rich tone of each character and the well crafted mood of the story.
Speaking of tone and mood, Snyder does an incredible job with both elements of this story. Batman’s tone throughout the issue highlights the ratcheting up of a sense of urgency and anxiousness. There is a general feeling of impending doom and hopelessness that envelops the reader. To see a character like Batman who has all of the answers being pushed to his limit is engrossing.
Snyder ends The Batman Who Laughs #2 with a wonderful hook ending in the surprise appearance of James Gordon, Jr. Gordon, Jr. first appeared in Snyder’s The Black Mirror arc that spanned ten issues of Detective Comics back in 2011. It was the last story arc on Detective Comics before the New 52 reboot of the title.
I love this move by Snyder because Gordon, Jr. is a cool character and because it is another element of the pre-N52 DCU continuity. I am fascinated by what Snyder has in store for Gordon, Jr. in this story. Gordon, Jr.’s character is a true wild card and was a stunning surprise twist that I was not expecting.
Snyder also delivers some incredible action scenes in The Batman Who Laughs #2. What I appreciated was the excellent psychology that Snyder performs during the fight scene between Batman and the Batman Who Laughs. Having Batman discuss his fighting style compared to the Earth–22 Batman’s fighting style offered an interesting insight into each character. I love when the strengths and weaknesses of a character’s fighting style are examined.
I also like it when character growth is preformed during a fight scene. Snyder shows the reader how Batman is constantly changing and adapting in trying to perfect his fighting style to better match his opponent at hand. It also shows that Batman will employ multiple different fighting styles depending on his opponent.
Having Batman even go ahead and create a brand new fighting style in Bam Pow. This was such a brilliant moment. First, it further demonstrates Batman’s relentless pursuit of perfection in his fighting style. Second, it was a wonderful moment of humor in an otherwise dark and serious issue. The Bam Pow fighting style is a great nod to the old 1960’s Adam West Batman tv show.
I completely understand why many people love Jock’s artwork. And there is no doubt at all that Jock is a talented artist. However, Jock’s style of art is simply a miss with me. I have never been much of a fan of it. Still, the fact remains that Jock’s artwork is an excellent match for the mood of Scott Snyder’s story. Jock’s style of art is also a perfect pairing for a character like the Batman Who Laughs.
The Bad: I have no criticisms with this issue.
Overall: The Batman Who Laughs #2 is another excellent read. Snyder and Jock are delivering a high quality comic that stands out from the rest of the comic books currently being published. This is a title that is worth your hard-earned money.